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Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010

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Off night: Kobe Bryant of the Lakers drives by Barcelona's Juan Carlos Navarro in their exhibition game on Thursday. Barcelona won 92-88. AP PHOTO

Navarro scores 25 as Barcelona beats Lakers

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Juan Carlos Navarro scored 25 points to help Barcelona beat the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers 92-88 in an exhibition on Thursday.

Spanish center Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 24 points but had only one field goal in the second half. His homecoming was spoiled by the Euroleague champions in a game that lived up to the billing of an informal intercontinental showdown.

"You always want to win, but it was an emotional game," Gasol said. "The fans enjoyed it, and the atmosphere was spectacular. We lost, but when your friends win you have to be happy for them."

The Lakers blew a 12-point advantage in the second half and were outplayed down the stretch after the game was tied 72-72 midway through the fourth quarter.

"They played much better in the fourth quarter," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, ruing his team's turnovers. "We anticipated they would not take a back seat and that they would be very physical. They did a good job doubling Pau in the second half and making him go to the foul line for his points."

Kobe Bryant played 25 minutes, compared to six on Monday in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, as he recovers from knee surgery.

He scored 15 points but went 2-for-15 from the field and missed two 3-pointers with a chance to tie the game with under a minute to play.

Bryant said his knee was feeling good, but Jackson said his guard played above his fitness level.

"He is not ready to play. He went out there to show his goodwill for the fans and to support his team," Jackson said.

With the loss to the Timberwolves, the NBA champions head home with a 0-2 preseason record.

Pete Mickael had 24 points and Terrence Morris chipped in with four 3-pointers for the Euroleague titleholders.

Gasol was the center of attention from the moment he stepped on the court, receiving a constant barrage of camera flashes throughout warmups, and a roaring standing ovation when he addressed the crowd before the game.

"It was a wonderful feeling to be so well supported and appreciated after so many years playing abroad, and I am very proud to have been received in this way," Gasol said.

Bryant and Barcelona's stars Ricky Rubio and Navarro also drew huge applause when they were introduced.

"The first thing you noticed was the crowd," Bryant said. "It was great to see a packed house."

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